Policymakers commend IITA on digital agriculture


Policymakers comprising commissioners of agriculture, permanent secretaries and program managers of Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs) have lauded efforts of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on digital agriculture.

At the meeting tagged: ‘Presentation Of Digital Tools: Disruptive Innovations In Cassava and Maize Farming systems,’ the Commissioners for Agriculture in Ondo and Ekiti States, Messrs Adegboyega Adefarati and Folorunso Olabode appreciated the IITA-led African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) project for developing digital solutions to address agricultural challenges in the country.

They noted that the digital tools were apt for the agricultural transformation plans of their governments.

Olabode said the state government was already working towards digitisation of agriculture and would be among the first to adopt digital extension to promote and strengthen the extension system and improve agriculture in the state.

His Ondo counterpart, Adefarati said the digital innovations in extension services were coming at the appropriate time and expressed hope that they would be properly integrated into the existing traditional extension system for the benefit of farmers.

In his welcome remarks, IITA Director for Development & Delivery, Dr. Alfred Dixon, called for concerted efforts on the use of digital tools that have been developed by IITA to revive the agricultural extension system.

He said the aim of the meeting was to share knowledge and digital tools developed in the last five years by IITA Cassava Weed Management Project and ACAI and other projects in IITA.

According to Dixon: “deploying the digital tools which include the Six Steps to Cassava Weed Management & Best Planting Practices videos, IITA Herbicides Calculator, Cassava e-market, Akilimo, Cassava Seed Tracker, IITA News App and the 3-2-1 toll free code on airtel mobile line would help in solving farmers’ challenges in cassava production and increase income generation.”

He explained that in the last five years, the IITA Cassava Weed Management Project had developed integrated weed control methods that are helping farmers to double the productivity of cassava and maize.

Dixon said the recommendations of the project were being scaled out to farmers through a variety of digital platforms in the framework of the ACAI.

He noted that considering the challenges with traditional extension systems in Nigeria and Africa, the digital tools would enhance efficiency and effectiveness in disseminating knowledge to farmers.

In his presentation, IITA Digital Extension & Advisory Services Specialist, Godwin Atser, stated that IITA’s approach to digitalisation in agriculture was to complement the existing extension system and to offer practitioners with tools that would help them do their jobs better.

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